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The Advisor #7: Cliff Vesting

Aug 8, 2011

TUESDAY

Palo Alto  9:10 AM

Jared  finally recalled that Leo had introduced his ride to him at an earlier meeting as a prospect. After a former career as an investigative journalist, Jared could instinctively sense when he was in the presence of a cop.  And Leo’s prospect was most definitely law enforcement.

Photographers’ flashbulbs went off all around Topher Wilson like fireworks as he took his rightful place on center stage.  Wilson was a marginally handsome man with a megawatt smile and incredible charisma.  He began his speech in an uncharacteristically somber tone of voice.

“Thank you, Charles.  And thank you all for taking time out of your busy work schedules to come here today.  I would also like to express my deepest sympathies for the tragic loss of Lucy Mincer.  She was a close personal friend of mine as well.”  Topher Wilson paused as he looked out at the faces in the audience.  He had managed to keep a straight face as he praised that piranha in high heels.  She had incessantly hounded him to get access to his companies’ retirement plans and the stock option plans.  She was a champion pusher.  Well, at least now he wouldn’t have to worry about dodging her calls anymore.

Wilson’s six-foot-five-inch body interacted flawlessly with his effervescent tone of voice as he launched into his latest project.  “Frankenfoods.  Mass protests over genetically engineered food.  A chronically overweight American population.”  Headlines from various publications including USA Today, Time, and Newsweek illustrating each of his talking points flashed up on the immense screen beside Wilson as he spoke.

Wellington turned to the people at his table.  “What are Fat Folks in America for $500, Alex?”

Even Death got a chuckle out of Wellington’s irreverent comment.  He let out an uncharacteristic snort.

Wilson gauged his audience’s reactions as he spoke. “Just imagine that with a single drop of your blood and your home computer you could have the ideal diet tailored specifically for you.  If you stay the course, you will not only avoid obesity, but all of the health problems that come with it.  And the best part is that there will be no need for genetically modified food.  Everything will be accomplished using readily available food supplies in the area where the individual resides. This will be the marriage of genetic analysis and web access.  And BioInternetics will be the forum to bring this to health-conscious consumers across the United States and ultimately the world.”

“Mr. Wilson.  Could you tell us where the capital for BioInternetics is coming from?”  Jennifer Kaneally, a renowned investigative journalist who freelanced for a number of media outlets, had been trying to get the goods on Wilson for a tell-all book for over a year with absolutely no luck.  The man was about as tough to get dirt on as Snow White.

“Of course, Jennifer. The initial funding for BioInternetics was derived from a number of venture capital institutions which are contained in the red-herring prospectus being circulated throughout this room.  In addition, we will be taking our company public at the end of this month in an effort to raise the funds necessary to make certain that we have a successful venture.”

“Todd Franklin from CNN, Mr. Wilson.  Can you tell us the monthly burn rate for BioInternetics?”

“Of course, Todd. BioInternetics’ current burn rate is conservatively ten million dollars a month.  This covers the biotechnology functions of the company as well as its internet presence, marketing, and support.”

Death put his hand straight up and immediately snagged Wilson’s attention.  “Cecil Pond at Ignatius Rowe.  Where is the current market penetration for BioInternetics and where do you estimate it to be in one year?’

“Great question, Cecil.  Within three months, we will serve three percent of our target market or roughly one million individuals around the globe.  We are on target to begin fulfilling on internet demand within three months.  We will then ramp up to our one-year goal of forty million individuals around the globe.”

Wilson paused to introduce key members of BioInternetics’ research team.  the group of mostly twenty and thirty-something men dressed in expensive suits had enormous grins plastered on their faces.  Each of them looked like they had just won the lottery.  Jared noticed that there was one empty seat.

Wellington glanced over at Jared.  “Do these guys look like an ad for Prozac or what?”

Death turned to Jared.  “It smacks of pure puffery.  But I suppose a little puffery is permitted under the circumstances.”

Wellington smiled Death right in the face.  “You tell ‘em, H.R. Pufnstuf.”

Death scowled at Wellington in an unsuccessful attempt to wipe the grin right off of his face.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Jared spotted someone lurking in the hotel lobby.  At first, Jared thought he was imagining things as he heard his name being called in a hushed tone.  “Jared!”

Jared turned to face an Indian man in his early thirties wearing a knit cap that looked like a cat’s face complete with tiny cat’s ears.  “VIP, is that you?”

VIP yanked Jared’s arm as he raced out of the hotel’s lobby.  “Come on, Jared.  This is a life or death matter.  Your life or your death.”

© Samuel Rush 2011.  All Rights Reserved.